We were at a concert the other night and my 10-year-old grandson's ears perked up during one selection. "I can play this song on my recorder!" he said.
It was Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.
When I was 10, I could sing all three verses with my eyes shut. Also, all the verses to We Three Kings (I love the one that starts, "Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume").
We sang carols everywhere: Sunday School, church, school. We had a Christmas cantata at church, a Christmas program at school, a Sunday School program. Our Girl Scout troop went caroling around our tiny little town. People gave us hot chocolate and cookies. (We still froze.)
We had Christmas records on at home and the Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert was a favorite on TV on Christmas Eve.
Most of us have lost the casual singing from our lives, I think.
Oh, the carols are around, in the Muzak at the mall to the all-Christmas, all-the-time radio stations. Folks who go to church still hear the classics, and even sing them on Sundays.
But for most of the, the chance to belt out a good ole carol is limited to the last-song-sing-a-long at a concert or maybe some furtive lip-syncing in the car.
I had been thinking about this, as my son-in-law had taken the time to teach his Cub Scout den some carols, then took them caroling at a nursing home. I have him major props for this.
Then this morning, an article in USAToday:
"Caroling or silent nights? A holiday tradition vanishes" by Maria Puente. "It's an appealing notion: Spread cheer without leaving the warmth (and the giant-screen TV) of your own home. Must be why YouTube boasts more than 300 caroling videos.
"But has it come to this? Except for pockets of passion, traditional, in-person neighborhood caroling is practiced by a shrinking fraction of the population."
So it's not just me. Only 6% of the population plans to carol.
One time when my kids were little, we actually did just carol around a neighborhood. Our friends organized it, we had guitar accompaniment, and a dozen or so grownups and kids sang our way up and down their street.
We were freezing, is mainly what I remember.
But I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad my kids had the chance to carol in the old-fashioned way at least once.But I doubt they know all the verses to Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, either.
Well, how about you? What carols are you singing?